Basic English Phrases for Library Staff Part XXIII

Reference Questions

Some students may ask:

Where can I ask a reference question?

We may inform them:

A librarian is usually stationed near the circulation desk. If no librarian is present, then ask at the circulation desk for a reference librarian.

Since many students have individual schedules, they will want to know what hours reference assistance is available for. The answer would be:

Reference librarians are usually available during usual library hours to answer reference questions.

Some students may need to know if reference help is available over the phone or by email:

Yes. Check the TU Library website for phone and email contact information, and all other related advice.

Sometimes students are shy about bothering busy librarians, and may wonder if they should interrupt staff who are clearly working on some other project. The answer would be:

Yes, we are happy to help.  Our mission is to encourage learning and make the library as user-friendly as possible, so students should ask whatever they need to know.

Students may not have a clear idea of what kind of help they can expect from a librarian. Telling them the following may give them a better idea:

Librarians will help to find information, according to what is needed. They may look at reference resources and have a direct answer. If students need to find a book or article, librarians might demonstrate how to use the online catalog to find the item. Librarians may also offer suggestions about how to use databases or the Internet, showing students the skills needed to perform research themselves, independently. Sometimes librarians may offer a few terms to help begin a search. If the student continues to have problems with the search, the librarians may continue looking for sources, to help. If librarians cannot personally help with reference questions, they will try to refer you to someone who can.

Students often have urgent questions about dissertations, either their own dissertation projects or dissertations already published that were written by other students in the past. If the library user is looking for a thesis or dissertation, we may suggest:

Please consult the TU Libraries Online Public Access Catalogue (KOHA) to locate these resources and find out about their availability.

When students are preparing a master’s or Ph.D. thesis, they must get permission to use images and quotes that have been published elsewhere. If they are quoting items from the TU Libraries collection, they may ask about how to obtain this permission. We may reply:

Permission to publish must be obtained by copyright holders.

They will want to know how to find the copyright holders. The answer would be:

Look at the copyright page of any publication. The copyright page is usually found on the back of the title page of the publication.

What does the copyright page, also known as the edition notice, tell us? It offers information about copyright notice, legal notices, publication information, printing history, cataloguing information from a national library, and an International Standard Book Number (ISBN). The student may assume that if an item is in the collection of the TU Libraries, then the TU Libraries controls the copyright. This is often not the case, as we may explain:

TU may be the property rights holder of items, but not the intellectual rights holder.

A simpler question for How do I cite the items from your collections that I am using?

Please cite: [Identification of item], [Collection Name] (Collection Number), Special Collections Department, Thammasat University Libraries.

As all library staff know, sometimes generations of people go to TU, meaning that the parents and even grandparents of some students were TU graduates. If a student’s ancestor attended TU and the student asks us for a copy of the transcript of a family member, we may tell them:

Transcripts and other student records are maintained by the University Registrar. All transcript requests should be directed to that office.

Some former students may wish to generously offer their TU memorabilia or documents as a gift. We may explain:

The TU Archives and Rare Books Division accepts some gifts of memorabilia, photographs, diaries, and other materials from former students. Kindly inquire at these divisions for further information.

(All images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)